The Case of the Singular Home
Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lai Fun Lee Illustrated by Sidney Paget and Lai Fun Lee
‘I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go’ said Holmes, as I sat down for breakfast, one morning. ‘I should be most happy to go wherever you’re going if I should not be in the way,’ said I. ‘My dear Watson, you would confer a great favour upon me by coming. I received a note this morning requesting our assistance at a London address.’ I finished breakfast and hailed a cab, and we soon arrived at our destination. A building of the strangest architecture stood before us. Gleaming white and squarely placed, it was sandwiched between old, gloomy houses. The house itself was sitting upon a hill which overlooked the city and the entrance to the apartment was via a small bridge leading to a set of double doors.
The house itself was sitting upon a hill which overlooked the city and entrance to the apartment was via a small bridge leading to a set of double doors.
We entered the house and Holmes led the way to the first set of doors on the left, I say set of doors but not a set of doors which was conventionally placed side by side but one small door set within a larger door. â€˜It looks like this must be the place we have been directed to,â€™ he said as he rapped the small door sharply. The small door remained locked tight but the larger door opened slightly at Holmesâ€™ knock. We entered the apartment and found ourselves in a small, unusual entrance room. The right wall was of no particular strangeness but the wall in front of us and to our immediate left did not touch the ceiling from the floor. Holmes inspected the room with a keen interest; I could tell that his curiosity peaked and that he was studying a small iron ladder placed next to a door which led to a main sitting room.
The small door remained locked tight but the larger door opened slightly at Holmesâ€™ knock.
â€˜It would be presumptuous of us to explore too much of the apartment without at least meeting the host,â€™ he stated and with that he thrust open the door and we found ourselves confronted with a large bare room, sparsely furnished, with only a large, round wooden table and two chairs. The walls to our left and right were empty save for the four large windows with equally large sills and the anterior wall had an indented section which appeared to be made of paper, allowing a faint quality of sunlight into the room. Holmes walked towards the indented section and pulled them apart to reveal a long, small kitchen space with a large window area. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary at this point.
Holmes walked towards the indented section and pulled them apart to reveal a long, small kitchen space with a large window area.
However when Holmes turned to walk towards me he gave an indication that something indeed was extraordinary about this place into which we had just entered. ‘Good Heavens!’ I cried, at the sight of the wall which stood behind us. The wall was made entirely of doors; some arranged horizontally whilst others were set in reverse to other doors. It was beginning to dawn upon me that this house may itself be the mystery that we had been invited to inspect. ‘I believe the host has given us permission to freely explore the apartment’ Holmes said, and signalled to a small, blank piece of paper pinned up on one of the doors. Holmes began walking towards the doors and tried each of those which he could reach and discovered that not all of them were doorways to other rooms. Some remained as storage space to hide the necessities of the apartment but two other doors revealed a small bathroom space and a long staircase to a door at the end.
â€˜Good Heavens!â€™ I cried, at the sight of the wall which stood behind us. The wall was made entirely of doors; some arranged horizontally whilst others were set in reverse to other doors.
‘Well?’ said he, ‘shall we proceed?’ and within six steps we found ourselves on a small landing with walls which faintly appeared to be doors. Holmes continued up the stairs and I tried the door to my right only to find it stuck. I successfully opened the door to my left and discovered a large and simply furnished bedroom. Holmes cried in surprise, causing me to rush back to the stairway to find that he was standing in a very small space at the top of the stairs and the door at the end was no taller than the height of his waist. It was fully functional and opened to reveal the exterior of the building which we had arrived at. ‘I think it is safe for us to give a full examination of the ladder which could provide us with the key to the apartment,’ I suggested. We returned to the original room and Holmes began to climb the small ladder which continued to the roof window but he was able to sit comfortably in a hollow of the wall and rest his feet upon a small ledge. He explained that he was able to see into the bathroom, stairway and bedroom.
Holmes was standing in a very small space at the top of the stairs and the door at the end was no taller than the height of his waist.
â€˜I have the strongest belief that there is another hidden room to the rear of this apartment, as the bedroom extends further than the bathroom wall. I believe the access to the room is either within the bedroom or the bathroom.â€™ said he. We progressed into the bathroom and found that everything appeared to be in place except a set of shelves arranged suspiciously in the shape of a door but we tried it and found that it did not open. We returned to the bedroom and discovered that the bedroom wall to our left was lower than the rest and overlooked the entrance corridor. Upon arriving into the entrance we were not able to glimpse into the bedroom over the wall but a small seating area, also serving as a set of chests, allowed the user to sit comfortably and look across this initial space. We turned in the bedroom and found that a wall -- which was initially hidden from our view -- had a large portion cutaway in the silhouette of the stairs and opened to another smaller and shallower staircase where another door stood at the bottom. We sensed a human presence in the next room and proceeded, ready for unexpected surprises.
We progressed into the bathroom and found that everything appeared to be in place except a set of shelves arranged suspiciously in the shape of a door but we tried it and found that it did not open.
We descended the stairs and discovered Mrs Irene Norton sitting in a beautiful and ornate armchair amongst stacked books, some surrounding her and some placed on bookshelves. ‘Dear Mister Watson and Mister Holmes,’ she exclaimed ‘I knew my designer would be no match for the celebrated Mister Sherlock Holmes! I am glad you have discovered my secret room but before I invite you to sit down, I would like to indicate that you have almost finished your journey with the exception of the door behind you and the door behind me.’ She laughed jovially and invited us to sit in her company with tea and cakes.
We descended the stairs and discovered Mrs Irene Norton sitting in a beautiful and ornate armchair amongst stacked books, some surrounding her and some placed on bookshelves.
public living space
sherlock holmes architectural mashup